A general manager is always planning for the future. They try to find competition for the present but the good GMs are looking 3-4 years in advance.
Lets look at free agency beyond 2014.
2015: (7 UFAs) QB- Alex Smith, C- Rodney Hudson, OLB- Justin Houston, DE- Allen Bailey, RB- Joe McKnight, CB- Ron Parker, FB- Anthony Sherman
2016: (17 UFAs) OLB- Tamba Hali, SS- Eric Berry, ILB- Derrick Johnson, CB- Sean Smith, RB- Jamaal Charles, CB- Dunta Robinson, DE- Mike Devito, QB- Chase Daniel, WR- Donnie Avery, NT- Dontari Poe, WR- AJ Jenkins, LG- Jeff Allen, LT- Donald Stephenson, NT- Jaye Howard, ILB- James Michael Johnson, RB- Cyrus Gray, OG- Rokevious Watkins
2017:(11 UFAs) CB- Brandon Flowers, RT- Eric Fisher, TE- Anthony Fasano, K- Ryan Succop, TE- Travis Kelce, RB- Knile Davis, ILB- Nico Johnson, DB- Sanders Commings, C- Eric Kush, DE- Mike Catapano, CB- Marcus Cooper
When you look at that list, half of your starters become free agents two years from now, so you need to start planning the next two seasons for their potential replacements, knowing you may not be able to provide all 10 starters fair market value to retain them.
So here are long term needs:
1. Rotational Pass Rushers
This is something the Chiefs need to do in waves. They could use help at the defensive end spot on passing downs. They could also use relief at the outside linebacker position. The Chiefs are going to need to find a replacement for Tamba Hali in the next couple of years, so now is the time to develop his replacement. The defense needs a wave of guys who can come in to give their starters a breather. It is what made the Giants pass rushing attacks so successful. They had waves of players who can rush the passer, so the rush stayed consistent, which will help for those games where your offense has short drives. If you have a defense that can rotate rushers in and out, you limit the fatigue challenge you face late in games.
What to look for: A quick first step. How quick are they in the first 10 yards of a dash? How well can they disengage or fight through a block? Can they bull rush effectively? Can they collapse a pocket? If they can: bull rush, swim, dip and rip, spin, set their defender up wide with speed and cut underneath or a combo. How effective they are in stunts, whether they wear down as the game progresses and if they make plays when the game is on the line. For outside backers, if they can set an edge on outside run plays and if they're comfortable moving around and rushing from different angles with their hand in the dirt or standing up.
2. Inside Linebacker Depth
The Chiefs are capable of getting by. In the long-term, you'll need to find a replacement for Derrick Johnson's spot. DJ will turn 32 in November and unfortunately he will begin to decline in the next couple of years. We still aren't sure what this team has next to DJ because Nico Johnson didn't see the field a great deal and Akeem Jordan helps give you consistencies but not a long-term solution.
What to look for: A speedy backer who has range. They can cover ground quickly. They can fight off blocks. The backer can read the play and doesn't hesitate to reach their responsibility. They are aggressive in their blitzes. Ideally, they are comfortable in zone coverage. Above everything else, they are discipline and a fundamentally sound tackler.
3. Offensive Line Depth
A majority of the offensive line will become free agents in the next 2-3 seasons. The Chiefs will need to start looking at depth in those spots and players you can develop in 2014 and 2015. The Chiefs will need to find players who have proper technique in their steps and those who don't lean on their defenders.
The linemen need to have strong work ethics and willing to do 500 to 1000 pass pro sets correctly each day. The reason is you need to create proper muscle memory so it becomes second nature. It is just like eating with a fork. You have muscle memory built up over the years. You eat a certain way. Pass blocking and run blocking are the same. A rookie or younger player must work on their reps to create a comfort level so they aren't thinking on the field during the middle of a crucial play. If a player is worrying about if his pass pro set is correct, he may miss the blitzing safety coming through his gap. Let them grow into the mindset you want them to have. So now is the time to get those players to build depth.
What to look for: For interior linemen, you want run maulers who can drive block and combo block. Ideally, they have the athletic ability to pull in space and on screens. You want players who have strong punches and can maintain a comfortable pocket. Ideally you are looking at 6'3 to 6'7. For tackles, you want tall, long armed tackles with quick kick steps. You are hoping for 6'6 to 6'9 about 315-330 pounds. You want a tackle who can deliver a punch. Extend their arms and eliminate a defender. Their feet must be quick enough to maintain a good set in pass pro and ride the defender around the corner. Solid drive blockers in the run helps.
4. Running Back
The Chiefs need to look for Jamaal Charles' replacement long term. Charles is a rare back. The Chiefs must take the opportunity to find the next speed back and allow the next back to learn how to catch out of the flats, set up his blockers, pick up a blitz, rise into a defender and how to protect the ball in the NFL. With Charles and Knile Davis in front, it allows a back time to develop. So when he steps on the field when it counts, he is ready for success.
What to look for: A running back who can run between a 4.2-4.5 in the 40-yard dash. You want good vision, ability to catch out of the flats and no hesitation.
5. Developmental Quarterback
Alex Smith will likely be here for a couple more seasons. Chase Daniel provides you a veteran who can step in and execute the offense. Tyler Bray is your current developmental project. When the team feels Bray is capable of playing in an NFL game and reading a defense. They need to usher Bray to their second spot on the chart. Move on from Daniel and find another developmental quarterback. The west coast offense is complex and takes time to learn. Ideally you are giving your 3rd QB 2-3 seasons to learn the system and get comfortable before you need them when it counts.
What to look for: A quick release, decisive, very accurate and can handle the volume of a west coast offense. A big arm will always help but you need the other three. On 3rd down can he convert the play? How many reads is he willing to make before a throw. When they escape from the pocket, which side do they run? What the player is like in clutch situations. If the QB can change his launch points based on the rush. Does he shy away from hits or keep the same mechanics until the hit?
Overall, you are trying to build a roster of strength. And there is a lot to look at. It won't be easy but a scouting staff who understands the system and needs can make it happen. A good coaching staff that can identify and work on the technique weaknesses is crucial in development. A training staff that can get them the proper weight training program. All have to share the same vision.
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